Lacto fermenting chili's

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I still have an abundance of chili's in my garden (and a freezer full) and was thinking of lacto fermenting them and making into a sauce.
I have made several other sauces and pickles with them, mainly vinegar based, but this I haven't done before and I need some advice.

I was thinking of putting the chili's in a jar, with plenty garlic and onions.
It looks like the "normal" way is to cover them in a brine solution. I am coming accross all kind of different amounts though, from about 1.5% to close to 10%.
Can anyone give me the correct amount (metric please. Not in spoons or cups or so as I have no idea what our salt compares with)

Next complication is that I would like to use fish sauce (or soy sauce) in the final product. Could I use it as a salt source for fermenting?
I'm a bit scared it would get too salty if I use it afterwards.

Once the chili's and additions are fermented, would it be wise to cook it all up and maybe add vinegar for a longer storage?

Thanks
 
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I have lacto fermented cucumbers with good results. I will say that I agree if you search online for pickling information you are going to be bouncing all over the place in terms of a brine and I think that is because like baking bread, you can vary the recipe a LOT and come up with acceptable results depending on what you vary. There was no vinegar in my brine, just salt, garlic, and black peppercorns. I was shocked at the complexity of flavor I got from that. I believe I posted a thread on here when I did it.

I would add the fish/soy sauce after they have fermented to taste, there is no reason to have that in your brine. If you're going to heat it then you might as well heat pack them if you want long shelf life.. otherwise vinegar will extend their life but you could also leave them in your brine and place the whole lot into refrigeration which would slow the process of fermentation down but still keep them preserved and maybe ready to turn into a finished product.

I'm sorry I don't have more information. I feel like pickling is something you kind of have to experiment with. I will say that you should not be afraid of a white film on the surface of the brine while fermenting or the liquid being cloudy. That is quite normal. Sometimes you'll even get mold on the surface. Just skim it off and discard it, as long as the product is in the brine they should be fine.
 
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I don't think you want a brine. I think you want to start with a % of weight of the peppers but no water. I'd start with 4% of the total weight of the peppers and see how that works for you. There is no "correct" amount, a lot of it just depends on personal taste and the environment you are fermenting in. Garlic is appropriate but I would also stay away from onions.

You would stem the peppers, run them into a food processor and then toss with salt and pack into the crock. This should take 2 months or so.

You can cook if you want, but then you'll kill all the beneficial bacteria you just cultivated. Fish sauce, soy, vinegar, etc should all be added later I'd think. I wouldn't add any to the ferment itself.
 
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Thank you.
someday someday : I saw your post too late :(
Let's see what happened anyway.

I stemmed the chili's and threw them in a small food processor. My initial idea was to slice them finely, but I didn't feel like getting tingling fingers, so I used the food processor instead.
I crushed garlic and sliced finely.
Onions were halved and sliced very fine.
I used a 4% brine.
I contemplated just salting, but I wasn't sure if there would be aenough moisture in the chili's to keep them submerged.
The brine was made with non-iodized salt.
I used plastic bags with the same salt concentration to hold the chili and onions submerged. These contain table salt as non-iodized salt is very difficult to find.
Moved the lot to a shady/darkish place and now we just wait and see

02 chilis.jpg 08 chili-onions in jar.jpg
 
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I've fermented chile for sauce both ways, brine and dry, and either works. Brine seems to work better for thin skin chile and dry works fine for thick skin that will exude sufficient moisture to create the brine. It sounds like you are well on your way to success. I like to minimize the amount of brine in the (possibly mistaken) theory that more brine dilutes the chile flavor in the resulting chile sauce or chile paste. Most often I use Fresno Chile for my concoctions at a rate of about 1 to 1.5 teaspoon (sorry) kosher salt to 1 pound ground fresh chile. Then ferment a minimum of 2 weeks but most often at least 4. Generally I'll refrigerate for another 2 weeks (again, a possibly mistaken theory) for the ferment to mellow. The grind again, strain, and add vinegar for the final chile sauce. But for chile paste I don't strain or add vinegar.
 
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4% should be fine, that what I use sometimes 4.25%. I also either leave them whole or cut into big chunks. I'm hoping to grow some decent habaneros this year so I can make another batch of smoked hab hot sauce.

mjb.
 

pete

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Peppers have quite a bit of natural moisture so you could probably do without a "brine". Use approximately 3% salt by weight compared to the weight of the chiles. I usually stay between 3-5 percent. Less than that and it isn't salty enough to keep out bad microorganisms and above that I find to be too salty. Once mixed with the salt, gently mash your chiles. Technically, you are still making a brine, just using the juices of the peppers in place of the water. I would also make a bit of brine on the side, because if you don't create enough liquid to come to a depth of, at least 1 inch above your peppers you are going to want to add some to make up. This will help in making sure that none of your peppers come above the brine which will encourage the growth of bad bacteria and mold. Also make sure to weigh your peppers down to keep them underneath the brine. Stay away from iodized salt, if at all possible. Not only can the iodine create off flavors, if too much is used, but iodine can inhibit the growth of bacteria and you want bacteria to grow-if you did everything right then the good bacteria will grow more rapidly than bad bacteria and you will get a good fermentation.

A few other things. A bit of white, fuzzy mold will often grow on the surface of your brine. This isn't necessarily a bad sign. Just gently remove it without stirring into the ferment. Also, sometimes your ferment will get cloudy. This doesn't necessarily mean your ferment went bad. Sometimes this happens to me and I haven't found any rhyme or reason to why it happens, although I have heard that salt with other ingredients in it (iodine and anti caking agents) can be a contributing factor.

I would start checking your ferment after 3 weeks. At 3 weeks it should have a nice sour tang to it but still be pretty salty. The longer it goes, the more sour it will become. I haven't played around with peppers much so I can't give you a good "sweet spot" for ending your ferment (chilling it to slow fermentation) but I would guess you could easily go for 6-10 weeks. The only way to know for sure is to taste every week or so.
 
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I would also make a bit of brine on the side, because if you don't create enough liquid to come to a depth of, at least 1 inch above your peppers you are going to want to add some to make up. This will help in making sure that none of your peppers come above the brine which will encourage the growth of bad bacteria and mold. Also make sure to weigh your peppers down to keep them underneath the brine.

One thing I do when doing naturally fermented veggies is use a thick slice of onion as a topper to help in keeping the main ingredients submerged under the brine. If it gets a bit dry and some mold starts to grow on top of it, toss it and put in a fresh slice. You can sort of see a slice filling the top of the jar over these green tomatoes.

pickles01.jpg

And if you live in a place where your water is chlorinated, put it in a loosely covered container overnight to let the chlorine dissipate. Like iodine, it can interfere with the natural fermentation process.

I've also heard that pickled watermelon can be quite tasty.

not_melon.jpg

mjb.
 
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Thanks!
brianshaw brianshaw : I am not too scared at diluting the taste as these chili's are incredibly hot (but tasty)
summer57 summer57 : Thanks. I have heard of the group, but I am not on facebook....
teamfat teamfat : I like the onion idea. I had the same sort of idea. I put the sliced onions on top of the peppers, hoping to keep the peppers down more easily. So far, it looks OK. And you got to tell me: what does sweet corn have to do with pickled watermelon?
P pete : I will start tasting after a couple of weeks.

Quite curious to see how it all works out.
I'll try to keep updating this thread.

I got 2 jars with the same ingredients, so at the moment I am thinking that one will become a thinnish hot sauce by just blending a certain amount of the brine with the onion-garlic and chili's and the other one is going to depend on how the first one turns out ;)
 
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Ahhhh, you are so right.
I need to clean my monitor and/or buy new glasses :(

So watermelon is the new sweetcorn????
 
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Soooo,
The one jar still looks fine, the other doesnt.
I was worried about that one from the start as the jar got a smaller neck and it was quite difficult to get my plastic bag with bring through it. As a result, it had less weight on it than the other jar.
Today, I saw that there was quite a bit of black mold. Actually on the plastic bag and not on the liquid and chili's/onions underneath.
This could have happened by some small pieces making their way up to the liquid and hence being in a air-rich surrounding.
I managed to get the plastic bag out, with all mold attached.
I've blended the sauce and put in a bottle in the fridge. Smell is good and it still tastes good as well.
Just going to leave it for some days and check if any mold comes back. If so, I will toss.

The other jar is going strong and is staying out of the fridge for some time longer.
 
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Sweet corn? What sweet corn? I don't see any sweet corn...
Look again:

photo.JPG
 
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So, my chile's came out very nice. Both jars.
I am mainly using it as a marinade, as it is still quite hot. Very tasty though.

I will make an other batch soon.
Just wondering if I could use part fresh chili's and part frozen? I got loads of frozen ones and I don't know what to do with them? I know fresh are better..., but would it work?

I also want to try cucumber. We mainly have English cucumber, so I can't keep them whole. Could I slice them or would they become to soggy?

I also managed to buy some waterlocks.
I suppose the best procedure for using them is still to make sure the ingredients are covered in brine, let ferment for a couple of days without a lid and then close the jar and use the waterlock?
I seem to remember that's more or less what I did when making sauerkraut (initial fermenting is aeroob, followed by aneaeroob)?
 

pete

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I often use my fermentation crock and I never ferment without it covered, even at the beginning. Too many things can go wrong leaving it uncovered. But even using some form of fermentation lock your product must always be covered by your brine or you will end up with mold and other nasties.
 
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The longer the cucumber is fermented, the softer the pickle will be. Short ferment = new pickle or half sour pickle, which will be fresher tasting and more crunchy. Longer ferment = sour pickle, which will be softer.

I’ve made a lot of sauerkraut and never thought of an initial aerobic period... only an aneroid ferment from the beginning.
 
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Not sure about how well the addition of frozen would work, try it and see.

And you can ferment any size cucumber pieces that fit in the jar. I've heard that grape leaves help keep them crisp, have yet to try it myself.

mjb.
 
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